Former Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis and current Leader of the opposition, the Right Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas has accused the Timothy Harris-led Team Unity Government of “cheapening” the Federation’s Citizenship By Investment Programme and has labelled it “a web of deception, corruption, and forgery.”
He reminded listeners to his weekly radio programme “Ask the Leader” on Kyss 102.5 FM on Tuesday night that when Prime Minister Dr. the Hon. Timothy Harris introduced the Hurricane Relief Fund in September 2017, he (Douglas) had warned that it was going to undermine the popular Real Estate option his St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party Government had initiated following the closure of the sugar industry as part of the economic diversification programme.
Under the Real Estate programme applicants invested a minimum of US$400,000 in real estate or made a contribution of US$200,000 to the Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation (SIDF).
Harris’ implementation of the Hurricane Relief Fund resulted in a family of four receiving St. Kitts and Nevis passports for a contribution of US$150,000.
“Harris reduced the value of the St. Kitts and Nevis passport to US$37,500, thus making it the cheapest in the entire global industry,” said Dr. Douglas, pointing out that after undermining the Real Estate option, Dr. Harris had to introduce measures to address the concerns of the developers of real estate projects.
“In making that adjustment, Harris is now saying that two persons can come together – each paying US$200,000 to make up the US$400,000 and thus make it more marketable. But it does not end there, because he now has the concept of shares being introduced in which one may now have 10 persons hiding behind 10 different companies, each being a shareholder, of one company and instead of having one passport issued for an investment of US$200,000 – half of the US$400,000 – what you now have is ten shares issued for that US$200.000 and 10 passports being issued for one contribution of US$200,000, thus making the real estate a shareholding,” Douglas explained.
He said that new system introduced by Dr. Harris makes it possible for an investor to come to St. Kilts and Nevis stating that he has US$100 million to invest in a hotel and he wants 3,000 St. Kitts and Nevis passports.
“This option has become so ridiculous that although there is no development taking place, St. Kitts and Nevis passports are being sold,” Douglas said.
“We have now discovered that agents working in close collaboration with the Citizenship by Investment Unit, located in the Office of the Prime Minister, where persons who have applied successfully to invest in the Hurricane Relief Fund (HRF) by paying US$150,000 and after having received approval, have been allowed by the CIU to switch from an investment in the HRF to an investment in the Real Estate option,” said Dr. Douglas, who further pointed out that the Federal Government is now being deprived of what would have been an original investment amount.
Dr. Douglas stated emphatically that this is being sanctioned by the Office of the Prime Minister and the St. Kitts and Nevis Citizenship by Investment Programme.